Press-Republican

June 6, 2011

Ti may try again to ban metal detectors

LOHR McKINSTRY
Press-Republican

TICONDEROGA — It's been 12 years since Ticonderoga tried to restrict use of personal metal detectors.

Now, concerned that treasure-hunters may flock to the community rich in 18th-century history, town officials are going to try again.

The town has scheduled a public hearing for 6 p.m. Thursday in the Ticonderoga Community Building on a proposed local law to ban the use of metal detectors on public property in the town.

Relic-seekers searching for buried artifacts could be fined $50 per violation if the law passes, Ticonderoga Supervisor Debra Malaney said.

SURFACE USE OK

But Malaney said she's not sure if a metal-detector prohibition is needed. The town may just need to enforce existing laws on trespassing and theft, she said.

"Instead of reinventing the wheel, we'll pass around all the prior information. The Association of Towns said our parklands are already protected from damage. If they (treasure hunters) start digging, existing town law protects us in that way."

The draft law reads, in part, "the use of metal detectors on town-owned real property may result in the unnecessary disruption of town-owned property."

The main issue would be whether someone started digging if his or her metal detector were to go off, Malaney said.

"If people want to do surface looking, that's OK. But we can't have people digging up the ground. Surface use, I don't have a problem with."

BANNED AT FORT

Town Clerk Tonya Thompson said she's been getting calls from people who want to come to Ticonderoga to use metal detectors.

"We don't want this to get out of hand," Malaney said. "It's important, and the town clerk needs a determination."

A typical hand-held metal detector consists of a control box, shaft and search-head, the part that actually senses the metal. Users sweep the search-head back and forth over the ground until an audible signal indicating buried metal is heard.

The devices will locate anything from musket balls to coins, rings and gold nuggets.

The original Archeological Resources Protection Law banning metal-detector use was proposed by Fort Ticonderoga officials in 1998. It was shelved by the Town Council in March 1999, and the Town Relics Law Committee formed to review it was dissolved. The committee had recommended that the law be withdrawn.

Fort Ticonderoga already prohibits use of metal detectors on its property.

If the new version of the law is adopted, it would be enforced by the Ticonderoga Town Police Department and town code enforcement officers.

Following the public hearing, the Town Council will decided whether to proceed or to drop the issue, Malaney said.

Email Lohr McKinstry at: lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com